A Seattle high school is in hot water with state schools chief Randy Dorn over its refusal to give some state-required tests this spring.
Washington state’s schools chief is warning a Seattle high school that its decision to boycott some state-required tests this spring could mean the loss of some federal funding.
The leadership team at Nathan Hale High voted Tuesday not to give its juniors the new tests which are tied to the Common Core, a set of learning standards in reading and math that many states are starting to use.
The team said its juniors are already tested enough.
The tests, called Smarter Balanced, are replacing Washington’s old statewide exams in reading and math. Some schools piloted the tests last year.
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“It was just too much,” Nathan Hale Senate Chairwoman Melinda Greene said of the amount of testing the students face. “The consensus has just been that this particular class has had enough.”
The leadership team, known as the Senate, is made up of teachers, administrators, parents and students, and voted 24 to 1 to ax the test. One person abstained from voting, according to the meeting minutes.
The Senate argued that because most schools in Washington — including Nathan Hale — will likely be labeled as failing under the federal law that requires the test, taking the exam won’t help them.
Last year, Washington became the first state to lose its waiver from some of the strictest requirements of that law, known as the No Child Left Behind Act, because lawmakers here refused to require school districts to use student test scores as part of evaluating teacher effectiveness.
In a statement Wednesday, state schools chief Randy Dorn said Nathan Hale’s decision could jeopardize some of the money that Washington state receives from the federal government, though it’s unclear just how much could be at stake.
“If a school decides not to follow federal law, it isn’t unreasonable to think that federal money might be withheld,” Dorn said.
Seattle Superintendent Larry Nyland has discussed Nathan Hale’s decision with the school’s principal, Jill Hudson, according to a district spokesman. But Nyland had not formally responded to the school’s decision as of Friday afternoon.
This is the first year that 11th graders must take state-required tests. Up until now, state testing focused on 10th grade. But since the Common Core is supposed to be more difficult than Washington’s old learning standards, the state decided to give the new tests to juniors.
Just how the new tests will be used is the subject of some debate. Dorn, for example, has suggested eliminating the requirement that students have to pass the tests in order to earn their high-school diplomas.
As the law stands, the class of 2019 will be the first required to pass the reading and math section of the Common Core tests to graduate.